One of the biggest steps after divorce is deciding to begin online dating. Usually after months of internal arguments about how it could be dangerous or perceived as desperate, there is that one pivitotal moment after going out to a bar and meeting no one yet again, or worse, sitting home alone on a Saturday night.
An epiphany occurs. Could online dating be any worse that what I'm already doing?
Almost three years after my divorce, I finally came to that conclusion. I write an advice column and every week, more and more of the questions that were asked pertained to online dating. One night, with a few glasses of wine fueling my curiosity, I decided to create a profile. There were the necessary pictures needed, but I wasn't prepared for the essay portion. This felt like a combination job interview/therapy session/pageant questionnaire. Once I got through the hard part -- you know, the stuff that actually made me think about things like what I really wanted in a person -- the fun began. Sitting in front of your computer screen filtering potential dates by any criteria imaginable is powerful. You certainly can't walk into a bar and eliminate all but those over six feet tall with a career in finance. Online you can.
Don't be misled though. It's not as easy and magical as it seems. Ultimately, technology cannot replace chemistry and there are still a lot of frogs you'll end up emailing, texting, and meeting for coffee dates before you find the Prince or Princess of your dreams.
When clients come to me for help after deciding to get back into the dating game post divorce, one of the first rules I establish is setting up an online dating profile. Many of them have tried online dating before but gave up, citing a lack of responses. The ones they do receive are never from anyone whom they really were interested in meeting. My rebuttal? Don't blame the messenger. The problem lies in the message you're sending. I review profiles both as a dating coach and as member of the online dating community. What I can tell you is this: You are doing it all wrong. Just a few subtle changes can increase the responses, and subsequent dates, tenfold. Here are five that can be made today:
1. Photos. You must have a photo. The photo should be of only you, and not with your ex-girlfriend, best friend, or children in the picture or cropped out. Have someone take an individual photo with a neutral background. Smile so you don't appear a possible serial killer. Provocative pictures bring unwanted attention and it makes you look easy. Absolutely under no circumstances should you use a mirror pic. (If you don't understand why then you need my coaching help asap.)
2. ALL CAPS. Writing in all capital letters is universally acknowledged as screaming at someone. Why would you scream at someone you've never met? Turn the caps lock off and write sentences like a normal person. Which brings me to my next point...
3. Misspelled Words. Don't say you're "financially secure" if you can't spell financially. I'm a horrible speller, but that's why I use spell check. Proof your profile for common grammatical mistakes like "your" for "you're."
4. Incomplete Profiles. I know you are awesome and a picture alone should send gobs of would be suitors into your inbox, but that's not how it works. Opening up about your passions and what you are searching for is a really vulnerable thing to do. That's why most profiles are limited, and therefore, don't get responses. Communication is one of the core pillars of a successful relationship. If you can't communicate who you are or what you want from the start, chances are you won't be able to later. Your profile will get passed over.
5. List of Don'ts. I don't like garlic. Or water sports. Or romantic comedies if I'm being honest. But I don't list that in my profile. More than anything else on this list, the quickest way to have someone not take a chance on you is by leading with your "don't, won't, and never happen" list. Negativity is not an attractive quality. I understand it is a burden to filter through the profiles of those that don't meet your criteria, but leading with "no'" instead of "yes" is never the way to finalize a sale.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your dating profile is your first virtual impression. Make it count.